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17 January 2020, 13:22
The gifted ballerina, who represented England at the 2019 Ballet World Cup, has been described by her family as ‘an angel’ and a ‘precious gift’.
Valentina Sanna, a young ballerina from Liverpool, has died after contracting a rare form of meningitis while travelling to see family in Sardinia over the Christmas holidays.
The 14-year-old Royal Ballet School dancer has been described as “fit and healthy” and “one of the best in her class”.
On Boxing Day, Valentina told her parents she was suffering from a severe headache. She died on New Year’s Day after spending three days in hospital.
Her father, Dr Alberto Sanna, told the BBC the disease hit “like a bullet” and “nothing could be done”.
Dr Sanna, who is a professional musician, described his daughter as a “precious gift”, saying: “She was very modest and a quiet child. She never made big statements about anything. She tip-toed through life in a literal and metaphorical sense.
“She was very mature. Most people called her an angel.”
A talented dancer, Valentina performed in The Nutcracker at London’s Royal Albert Hall and took part in the recent Ballet World Cup in Braga, Portugal, where she represented England.
Valentina was born in Italy but spent most of her childhood in Liverpool, training up to six days a week at Procter Dance Academy in Crosby. Her skill eventually earned her a place at the Royal Ballet School in London.
Her father thanked her tutors Lorna Proctor, Alice Crawford, Joanne Bond and Natalia Kremen for bringing joy to his daughter’s life.
Dr Sanna, director of the Liverpool-based teaching charity Early Music as Education, has said he wants to start a new charity focusing on dance tuition in memory of his daughter.
“Valentina was very central to our family life. A really beautiful human being,” he said.
“We will set up a charity in her memory to help aspiring classical dancers achieve their dreams without forgetting the values of respect, love, commitment and elegance Valentina cherished so much.”
Valentina is survived by two sisters, aged 17 and nine. Dr Sanna and his wife Paola have thanked well-wishers for their support.
The family have started the hashtag #DanceForValentina on Instagram, which friends and followers have been using to post memories of the young ballerina, as well as performances dedicated to her.